Archive for the ‘existentialism’ Category

He fornicated and read the papers

September 8, 2009

I sometimes think of what future historians will say of us. A single sentence will suffice for modern man: he fornicated and read the papers.

Albert Camus in Olivier Todd, p.300

Fornication can only be a meaningful moral concept in a world of moral purpose and design. But once again, when man runs from God, the price is meaninglessness.

The price of running from God

September 8, 2009

Absurd is that which is devoid of purpose. …Cut off from his religious, metaphysical, and transcendental roots, man is lost; all his actions become senseless, absurd, useless.

Eugene Ionesco, playwright

This is the price of running from God. When man hides from God he becomes lost.

History and Human Responsibility

August 22, 2009

We believe there is only one inevitability in history, the one we create.

Albert Camus speaking of the situation in Europe in Nov. (?) 1939


August 17, 2009

atheistic existentialism, which I represent . . .states that if God does not exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists before he can be defined by any concept, and that this being is man… What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means that, first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself. If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be. Thus, there is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it. Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is also only what he wills himself to be after this thrust toward existence.

Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. Such is the first principle of existentialism


Sartre is correct to say that without God there is no fixed human nature. But with no God there is also no limit to what man may choose to do (in defining himself) – to other humans. Man is unaccountable to anyone but himself.

Sartre also said:

…man…realizes that he is not only the person he chooses to be, but also a law-maker who is, at the same time, choosing all mankind as well as himself, cannot help escape the feeling of his total and deep responsibility. Of course there are many people who are not anxious; but we claim they are hiding their anxiety, that they are fleeing from it….Anguish is evident, even when it conceals itself

But why, according to his Naturalism, are my decisions a law for anyone else? They choose for themselves. Sartre wants to import a kind of Kantian ethic that when we choose we ought to make it a universal. But his individualistic and Naturalistic philosophy contradicts this desire.

He seems to be frightened of the consequences of his atheism and is as hypocritial as the bourgeois professors who kept morality while rejecting God.

Ethical subjectivism in Sartre

August 7, 2009

To choose to be this or that is to affirm at the same time the value of what we choose, because we can never choose evil. We always choose the good, and nothing can be good for us without being good for all.

Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions (lecture), 1966

He says that our choices are what we would want all men to be as an attempt to avoid radical relativism. But it is what ‘we’ want and so it ends up being an ethic of subjectivism and even of solipsism since we can only choose the good.